Author Topic: The Symmetric Stagger Board  (Read 17982 times)

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Offline bpiphany

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« on: Thu, 07 July 2011, 07:59:40 »
In this article I will gather all the information of my Symmetric Stagger Keyboard. The information was starting to become spread out into several threads.

[H=2]PCB[/H]
Front

The PCB supports a few different layout options, there are layout sketches further down. The board takes any Cherry MX switches and PCB mount stabilizers, I suggest 1N4148 or LL4148 diodes (through hole or surface mounted), They are the exact same that Filco uses. The surface mounted ones just barely reach between the pads. There are three different LED "channels" (i.e. Num Lock, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock, or whatever you want). They are connected to output pins with PWM (pulse width modulation) to make it possible to dim the diodes. There are also surface mount pads in conjecture to the diode mounts to take resistors for non-5v LEDs. LED locations can be found in the picture of the back.

Back

A lot of text, mostly correct English...

[H=2]Controller[/H]

Powered by a Teensy++2.0 the board is fully programmable. You could probably have it mine Bitcoins or whatever (you won't get rich though). I have a working firmware (tested on Ubuntu and Windows, comes without guarantees though). It is possible to piggyback the accompanying Micro-SD card reader. (The necessary pins on the controller board are unused. I haven't even looked into interfacing it though).

[H=2]Case[/H]

The board fits into a full size Filco case. The case needs to be slightly modified to accept PCB mounted stabilizer. They protrude on the back of the PCB where there is a plastic ridge in the case bottom. This ridge needs to be trimmed slightly, It was a quick job using a sharp chisel. Plate mounted stabilizers don't pose the same problem. A few of the diode legs also end up right on the ridge, these diodes can be surface mounted on the front without any trouble, or the ridge can be chiseled.

[H=2]Mounting Plate[/H]
I had a few mounting plates made at a local water cutting company. They are not the highest quality steel and they didn't come de-burred. I have sanded them and spray painted them black. The result was awesome. Next time I would probably go for stainless steel though. I have no idea how well the paint will stick or protect the plate in the long run. As long as they are not subjected to any salt water I guess they will be fine. A sanded and clear coated stainless plate would probably look wicked.

Plates for Cherry or Costar stabilizers, slightly different layouts.



[H=2]Keycaps[/H]
A full set of standard QWERTY keycaps will cover most keys depending on desired layout, probably not all though if you don't already have a hefty private stash.
The "Caps Lock" position requires a 1.25 width keycap.
The left "Shift" requires a 1.00 or 2.00 width keycap.
The right "Shift" requires a 2.00 width keycap.
Other than that you may only need an extra 1.00 width keycap for the "zxcv"-row, and up to 3 extra for the "1234"-row, depending on the chosen layout.
The "Return" key can be either a ANSI, ISO, or a custom 1,25 width keycap.

[H=2]Layouts[/H]
This part really is up to anyone to design on their own, but here are some ideas. The ISO and ANSI version have the Filco type space bar row. The three 2x wide keys in the bottom row of the SYM layout can be replaced with one 6x wide space bar. In general all non-overlapping options can be combined any way desired (for example the ANSI enter with the ISO left Shift). All 2x wide keys on the numpad can be replaced with two 1x wide keys. The gap in the home row have two different options like in the layout suggestions.


[H=2]Quirks with the 2001-05-17 revision[/H]
The Filco case has three pegs holding the PCB in place. I got the middle one dead on, the other two need some modification for the PCB to fit. I tried doing it by machine but I got the best result just filing by hand.


The Filco case bottom has some plastic ridges the PCB rests upon. In some locations the PCB mounted stabilizers interfere with them. The "Spacebar"-row is the biggest problem. There the PCB rest directly on the case bottom, which cannot be easily chiseled away. Plate mounting solves this of course. Some diode pads also interfere with the ridges. This can be solved either by modifying the ridges or surface mounting the diodes.

This is the messy area... The stabilizer holes and switch center holes of the ANSI and ISO return interfere with each other. Drilling holes will work well only for one of the setups. The optional 1.25x wide return is compatible with both ISO and ANSI return since it requires no stabilizer. Plate mounted stabilizers if course do not require drilled holes. I put 1mm holes in the board for easy centering when drilling.


This is the same drilled for an ISO return setup.


Both the left and right "Control" switch locations do not have drilled center holes. They need to be drilled in the desired location. There are centering holes provided.

On to the only real design issues. See that diode location. It is needed for both placements of the right shift key, the stabilizer interferes in both cases. This is not quite as bad as it may look. There is plenty of room for the diode to be mounted on the back of the board. With Costar stabilizers this also is not an issue, since they leave plenty of room down to the PCB.


More stabilizer interferences. That pad is for mounting a resistor (yeah I know that is a diode, but it's for illustrative purposes) in series with that diode in put into the left shift key. This solution works albeit a bit tedious.


This however is not a problem at all. Those two diodes aren't used in conjecture with the double height '+' and 'enter'-keys.



[H=2]Pictures and Videos[/H]
A board of blue switches. I had put high force gray switch springs into them just to try it. That was insane... so I did a no solder spring swap back to blue spring, on most switches. I totally didn't think of this when I de-soldered them to put the plate in. It was a quite easy task identifying the stiff ones though. Counted them all up and decided I had them sorted out. Re-soldered everything with the plate in between. Then it hit me I probably had put a black spring into the spacebar... So there is a switch somewhere with a black spring within =)

Some close-ups.



Another brown/clear board in the ISO layout.


A higher res desktop shot of the symmetric layout board. All keys will have legends when I get the next batch of keycaps from SP.


A really crappy video showing the costar stabilizers in action.
[video=vimeo;26059753]http://vimeo.com/26059753[/video]

And finally, an almost as crappy video of the board in action. Showing the firmware working fine.
[video=vimeo;26059879]http://vimeo.com/26059879[/video]



A brand new release from Bathroom Epiphanies Inc!! Due to public demand we proudly present:
The Symmetric Tenkeyless =)
[/SIZE]

Pretty on the outside


Not so pretty on the inside...

Offline nesiax

  • Posts: 63
    • key64 libre keyboard
Stabilizers Footprint
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 13:37:50 »
Hi PrismValium, the information i have found from your posts have been so valuable for me.
I am following your kicad howto in order to make the pcb for the keyboard i am designing. www.key64.com
Regarding the stabilizers, where i can buy them ? i need 4 pairs of them for my keyboard, which reference ?
Also i have a question: Does the holes doesn't interfere which each other when you put them in a column like the thumb keys on the key64 ?
Thanks for all the information you have gave to this community !
now: key64.org with cherry blue keys and dsa keys |  before: noppoo choc mini with cherry brown keys
Check out the key64.org project , A Libre * Design, Minimalist, Ergonomic, Splittable, Symmetric, Compact 64 Keys, Eco-Friendly, Durable, Native Colemak Keyboard, Embedded Mouse and Firmware Programmable USB Keyboard.  * Free as in Freedom.
The key64 need a case, if you want to design it please contact us

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 18:29:28 »
Nesiax, if the layout of the keyboard is as described in this page then the .94" stabilizer I told you about in the Leopold thread is the correct one.  I don't understand what issue you're having with overlap however.  The stabilizers fit within the constraints of the keycap so there is no way for you to get overlap.
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline nesiax

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    • key64 libre keyboard
The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 19:10:53 »
Hi, i saw your post on the stabilizers thread, i am asking before buying, i am using PrisValium footprints for kicad and i notice that when i use the stabilizers they will overlap each other for the keys that are located on the thumbs, i mean "space, backspace, fn and alt-gr".
now: key64.org with cherry blue keys and dsa keys |  before: noppoo choc mini with cherry brown keys
Check out the key64.org project , A Libre * Design, Minimalist, Ergonomic, Splittable, Symmetric, Compact 64 Keys, Eco-Friendly, Durable, Native Colemak Keyboard, Embedded Mouse and Firmware Programmable USB Keyboard.  * Free as in Freedom.
The key64 need a case, if you want to design it please contact us

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 19:37:27 »
Check out how he did a simple keypad board and you will see what you need to do:  here
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline nesiax

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    • key64 libre keyboard
The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 20:44:00 »
I am following his howto, what i am trying to explain is if you put another "0" key with stabilizers above the current "0" key it will not be possible to put another stabilizer there because the hole will overlap with the current holes of the "0" key.

[ Guests cannot view attachments ] 20997[/ATTACH]

So, i need some stabilizers that dont overlap to each other.
now: key64.org with cherry blue keys and dsa keys |  before: noppoo choc mini with cherry brown keys
Check out the key64.org project , A Libre * Design, Minimalist, Ergonomic, Splittable, Symmetric, Compact 64 Keys, Eco-Friendly, Durable, Native Colemak Keyboard, Embedded Mouse and Firmware Programmable USB Keyboard.  * Free as in Freedom.
The key64 need a case, if you want to design it please contact us

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 20:55:02 »
No, if you put another 0 key above that one, you will not have anything overlapping.  You will have 2 horizontal 2.0 keys with stabilizers.  When you change the orientation of a key with stabilizer, everything rotates.

[ Guests cannot view attachments ] 20998[/ATTACH] [ Guests cannot view attachments ] 20999[/ATTACH]
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline bpiphany

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 21:10:32 »
I actually think nesiax is correct. Placing two stabilized keys parallel to each other with the standard 0.75" spacing will have the PCB holes overlap. This would have to be done with plate mounted stabilizers or some other kind than the Cherries. I guess they were just not designed to work like that. But you might want to try doing it without the stabilizers. My friend thought the cherry stabilizers was too mushy and simply removed them. For keys only 2X wide it is not to bad if you hit them reasonably centered.

If that didn't come out correctly my excuse is being completly plastered =P

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 21:33:57 »
Mmmm... I had vertically stacked like the numpad +/Enter stuck in my head.   The holes are *very* close, but it's the hardware that fills them that I don't know about.  My sample is sitting in the mailroom at work...

[ Guests cannot view attachments ] 21000[/ATTACH]
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 21:36:31 »
Hey, mirror image might fit:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ] 21001[/ATTACH]
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline bpiphany

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 21:39:44 »
Yeah, that looks doable =) The holes are not equally far from the center line. I thought it looked tight though... That last example shouldn't pose any problem I'm quite sure. The larger hole has a tab extending a bit further away from the center line on the reverse side of the PCB. The smaller hole on the other hand is where the stabilizer clicks into place and there is nothing extending away from it on the other side.

This is a view of the smaller hole side. The stabilizer is almost not even extending out of the silk screen box.
« Last Edit: Fri, 15 July 2011, 21:45:49 by PrinsValium »

Offline nesiax

  • Posts: 63
    • key64 libre keyboard
The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 22:09:41 »
Thanks.

I was thinking about that too since on kicad they fit.

Although this configuration is very thigh i think there are no more options arround, at least no one i can solve just by going to an online store and since this cherry part is in stock at onlinecomponents.com

Good night !
now: key64.org with cherry blue keys and dsa keys |  before: noppoo choc mini with cherry brown keys
Check out the key64.org project , A Libre * Design, Minimalist, Ergonomic, Splittable, Symmetric, Compact 64 Keys, Eco-Friendly, Durable, Native Colemak Keyboard, Embedded Mouse and Firmware Programmable USB Keyboard.  * Free as in Freedom.
The key64 need a case, if you want to design it please contact us

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 22:13:57 »
Yeah, I wish we could get Costar stabilizers....


Night.
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline nesiax

  • Posts: 63
    • key64 libre keyboard
The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 22:31:00 »
Is there any online store where i can find some costar stabilizers for pcb mount ? this part exists ?
now: key64.org with cherry blue keys and dsa keys |  before: noppoo choc mini with cherry brown keys
Check out the key64.org project , A Libre * Design, Minimalist, Ergonomic, Splittable, Symmetric, Compact 64 Keys, Eco-Friendly, Durable, Native Colemak Keyboard, Embedded Mouse and Firmware Programmable USB Keyboard.  * Free as in Freedom.
The key64 need a case, if you want to design it please contact us

Offline alaricljs

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 15 July 2011, 22:49:49 »
costars are not available in any form if you're not a KB manuf. with high quantity orders.
Filco w/ Imsto thick PBT
Ducky 1087XM PCB+Plate, w/ Matias "Quiet Click" spring-swapped w/ XM Greens

Offline vils

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 17 August 2011, 06:50:42 »
Where did you get the keycaps? Im looking for swedish keycaps for my Filcos.
It\'s the glass pipe fallacy. You can only believe that if you\'re on crack.

Offline bpiphany

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 17 August 2011, 10:23:01 »
Quote from: nesiax;381245
Is there any online store where i can find some costar stabilizers for pcb mount ? this part exists ?

Quote from: alaricljs;381252
costars are not available in any form if you're not a KB manuf. with high quantity orders.

They may be available or become available through the new WASD keyboard company. This is not clear to me yet. Mine are from slaughtered Filcos.

Quote from: vils;400307
Where did you get the keycaps? Im looking for swedish keycaps for my Filcos.

They are from Signature Plastics, their DSA family.

Offline bpiphany

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The Symmetric Stagger Board
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 03 November 2011, 10:25:41 »
New "model", mostly a slash and bash hack really...